Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I'm Not a Super Mom

There's been a lot of honesty going on around the internet these days from moms. Moms all across the country are posting pictures of their houses a total mess, their dishes unwashed, and laundry unfolded. I've heard countless tales of moms who just can't find the time to shower anymore, who are exhausted from night after night without sleep.

Well, here I am, sitting at my computer, at 1:32 in the afternoon. The counters are wiped, the floors are swept, and the laundry is put away. The four kids are asleep or quietly playing, and I lit a cinnamon-smelling candle. The house is calm.

Did all of this happen magically? Definitely not. Do I have super powers? NO. No, no, NO!!

I've been telling people that four kids has been easier than one--or two, and that is oh-so-true. When I just had Rachel, I was hesitant to even change her diaper, afraid that I would somehow "do it wrong." Jemima used to "explosively" spit-up, and I remember the day that she spat up all over me and the floor, and I had the phone in my hand, about to call Matt to come home from work, because I didn't think I could deal with a 1-year-old Rachel AND cleaning up after Jemima. I would call my mom or sister to help me take my ONE child shopping, because I couldn't picture how I could do that.

There were many days that I was tired, and overwhelmed... and I had two. And then I had three, and it took about one month of adjustment (and crying) before I felt like, "Wow... I can do this!"

Enter Caroline, and thus four kids in less than five years. It's easier now, and better. I'm not saying that everything is easy (I'm still super tired from having a one-month-old!), but I'm also having more fun with these kids than I've had before. I'm able to enjoy Caroline more than I enjoyed my other newborns, because I'm more relaxed.

All that aside, how do I do it? How can my house be "picked up," when my oldest is 4 years old? How can I be showered and dressed every morning when I have a newborn? With two kids in between...?!

I've written so many of these ideas before, but recently, I've heard more than ever the response "You must be a super mom," as if I've reached this level of perfection that is unattainable for the average mom. That is SO not true, and I want people to know that! It's been a slow, growing process, and I've learned so much along the way. Some things are simple, and others take more sacrifice, but really... it's about pushing through the hard times, with a little bit of perseverance, and whadda-ya-know, things start getting easier.

A couple weeks ago, I was at the dentist's, and he asked me (as I was getting my mouth worked on) what was my biggest piece of advice for having "four kids" and keeping my sanity.

Being a bit sleep-deprived, and having dental instruments in my mouth, I couldn't think super clearly, so I said the first thing that came to mind, and that was: Teach your kids to obey--the first time.

Basically: expect obedience. It's a command from God, and it relieves an incredible amount of time and stress (on the part of the parents). It might even save their lives one day.

Kids need to know that when you speak, you mean what you say. So when I say to the girls, "Clean up your toys," they understand that I literally mean: "Clean up your toys." Like, NOW.

We don't have a set routine right now, but we have general guidelines in our house. Such as, when the kids wake up, they stay in their rooms until I (Mom) get out of the shower. They have a few books and a few toys, and they have their imaginations. They can do this.

When I'm cleaning up the house, I expect them to help me. Often times, the messes are caused because of something they did anyway (like eat breakfast, or dirty their clothes...), so I want them to be helping me clean UP what they created. It's simple tasks, really. "Carry the dirty laundry basket to the top of the steps." "Unload the [unbreakable] plates from the dishwasher into this drawer."

It always helps when the messes are prevented in the first place. The girls are almost to the point where they can take off their nighgowns and put on their clothes in the mornings. So we expect them to either... Put their nightgowns back in their drawer (immediately after taking it off), or throw them in their bright pink hamper.

Even Matthias knows how to throw away his diaper, get out his sleeper, put away his shoes, and so on. Kids don't need to play all day. Seriously. I can't entertain them, and they're happier when they're not entertained all day long. Helping can be fun!

Of course it helps if Mom has a good attitude. ;) A friend of mine was telling me (years ago) how much she hated cleaning the bathroom, and I told her (blunt Tricia that I was) that she was going to be cleaning her bathroom for the rest of her life, so she might as well start enjoying it--at least as much as she could. LOL.

I think many tasks sound worse than they are--even getting out of bed in the morning, after being woken up several times in the night. If you keep laying there, thinking about how much you DON'T want to get out of bed, how will you ever be able to actually... umm... roll over and get out of bed?! And then walk into the hallway, with at least half a smile to greet the kids. :)

Here's what I am slowly learning: this housework, these pregnancies, and childbirths, and everything wife and mommy-related are my life right now. I'm busy with my children all day long, day after day. This is the work God has given me to do, and He expects that I do it cheerfully. I cannot do anything on my own power, which means that every morning, I need to pray and ask God to give me the strength (HIS strength) to make it through that day. Everything we have is from Him anyway, and He can give us the wisdom to train our children, and the courage to greet each day--and each child--with joy.

A few more practical things I do... I read an article recently about moms of littles doing "less stuff" over the holidays, and I couldn't agree more--except I'd apply it to my life, every day. I'm involved in very few activities, and I rarely "go out" except for shopping once or twice a week. This may change as my kids get older, but right now, loading the four kids up in their carseats to go anywhere seems pretty much unnecessary, especially when it's winter time. The few times I've gone somewhere with all the kids, I've asked someone to go with me. Yes. So this hasn't changed--but the number of kids has. ;)

I also think that times of quiet are absolutely essential to the general peace of the household. I feel most frazzled and unfocused when I haven't been able to rest all day long, which is why my goal every day is that all four kids sleep at the same time. Caroline's not on a fixed schedule yet, so there have been afternoons when I'm feeding her while the other three are asleep, but that's still peaceful... all snuggled up with my baby girl. :)

When I get to the point that I can't hear myself think (which happens at least once a day!), I have all the kids sit down in the living room, and we're all quiet together. Even if the house isn't completely silent, it's CALM. The kids are memorizing Psalm 23 (which is a peaceful Psalm, by the way! :)), and we practice it multiple times a day. We are slowly teaching the children that they don't always have to be silly, that they can quote Scripture or sing Christmas songs confidently and calmly.

After the kids wake up from their naps, and I'm feeding Caroline, we've been singing Christmas songs. It's a very frugal way to create some Christmas cheer (!), and I absolutely love all these Christmas songs. I want to pass that on to my kids! We haven't had a day yet that singing song after song does not produce happiness and smiles all around.

And one last thing: towards the end of the day, when I'm getting last-minute-dinner preparations ready, or paying the bills, or finishing doing whatever I need to do, the kids are allowed to watch a TV show or movie. I'm trying to limit it to the afternoons, because by then, the kids have had hours of imagination-play, school time, and plenty of helping me. It's been a nice way for all of us to unwind and finish off the afternoon/early evening with some fun (as long as the show is decent!).

I've been typing for a while, and Baby C is just waking up. I hope these thoughts have been encouraging or helpful to some of you!


  1. I've been enjoying going through your blog after searching home management and mothers. I have four children as well, all boys and all under 7. I know our home is a much more peaceful place when it is clean and organized...but oh it is such a task! And I don't know if it is just boys..but something always seems to be getting broken. Your posts are encouraging me to keep it up the management! Hope I have a chance to read through some more. You have a beautiful family.

  2. This is fantastic! So encouraging and really great insight. No matter how "super" we are, we all need these reminders and tips once in a while. Thanks so much!!

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